February 17, 2019

Analysis of Walker and Rubio Health Care Plans

Press Release from the National Center for Public Policy Research:
Scott Walker’s and Marco Rubio’s Health Care Plans Would Move U.S. In a Free Market Direction

Walker and Rubio Depart from Previous GOP Candidates by Releasing Plans Early, Signaling Health Care Will Be a Central Issue for the Campaigns

Washington, D.C. – “Both Scott Walker’s and Marco Rubio’s health care plans are a very good start,” said Dr. David Hogberg, health care policy analyst at the National Center for Public Policy Research. “On balance, these are excellent plans for moving our health care system in a free market direction.”

He also praised the candidates for releasing their plans early.

“Usually, Republican candidates release their health care plans late in the election cycle, if they release them at all,” he said. “By putting these plans out there more than 14 months before the election, Walker and Rubio show they are willing to make health care a central issue of the campaign.”

Both Walker’s and Rubio’s plans contain elements that will help facilitate a free market in health care, including:Washington, DC –

-A refundable tax credit to purchase health insurance

-Allowing consumers to purchase insurance across state lines

-Expanding health savings accounts (HSAs)

“These are all big steps that will empower Americans to become health care consumers,” said Dr. Hogberg. “These will be important drivers in reducing the cost of health care and health insurance while also improving their quality.”

Dr. Hogberg notes that each plan has important elements that the other does not.

Walker’s plan allows consumers to pool together in associations and offer health insurance to members of the association.

“Americans have the freedom to form associations in most other areas of our economy, and they should have the freedom to do so to purchase health insurance,” said Dr. Hogberg.

Rubio’s plan reforms the employer-based tax exclusion for health insurance by gradually changing it over a decade so that its value is equal to the value of the tax credit.

“The tax exclusion is one of the biggest inefficiencies in our health care system,” said Dr. Hogberg. “However, taking it on can be political risky. Rubio is to be commended for that.”

To help the public better understand what the many conservative/libertarian health care plans contain, the National Center for Public Policy Research has released a publicly accessible spreadsheet that contains all of the plans and summarizes how each one treats the major health care policy issues. This spreadsheet has now been updated to include the plans of Governor Walker and Senator Rubio. To view it, go here:http://goo.gl/y1ALI2

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors. Sign up for free issue alerts here.

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5-Point ObamaCare Repeal Plan Proposed

National Center for Public Policy Research Proposes 5-Point Plan for Achieving Repeal of ObamaCare and Replacing It with a Free-Market Alternative

“First You Win the Argument, Then You Win the Vote”

Washington, DC – Saying Congress needs to be more aggressive about repealing ObamaCare, a Washington D.C. conservative think-tank is proposing a 5-Point Plan to help Members of Congress engage with each other and with the American people to develop an alternative to ObamaCare and get it enacted into law.

“Margaret Thatcher once said, ‘First you win the argument, then you win the vote.’ Republicans need a strategy for winning the argument,” says Dr. David Hogberg, senior fellow and health care policy analyst at the National Center for Public Policy Research.

To that end, the National Center for Public Policy Research proposes a 5-point action plan to help Republicans repeal ObamaCare and replace it with a better system:

1. Sponsor Regular Congressional Hearings. Congress should hold weekly hearings on key health care issues, including mounting problems with ObamaCare and alternatives for more free-market reforms. Hearings on the latter will enable lawmakers and the public to debate free-market alternatives and help give ObamaCare’s critics an opportunity to coalesce around one plan. Hearings on the former will help Members of Congress learn from the ObamaCare experience.

2. Hold Regional Town Hall Meetings. Republicans should hold town hall meetings across the nation, soliciting advice from Americans on what works and hat doesn’t work about our current health care system and learn from the public what it believes would help our health care system perform better. These should be high profile meetings structured to allow for maximum public input.

3. Appoint Congressional Working Groups. Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should appoint health care working groups consisting of Members of Congress/Senators they trust who are committed to ObamaCare’s repeal. Each member would be a “go to” expert on a specific aspect of health care reform and act as a sounding board for the leadership. These working groups also would coordinate and participate in such activities as the Town Hall meetings and would regularly engage with the news media.

4. Put Health Care Bills on the President’s Desk. Nothing gets a policy conversation started faster in Washington than sending a bill to the President’s desk. Bills in this instance can include (1) bills that repeal parts of ObamaCare, such as the individual mandate or the so-called ‘Cadillac tax,’ or (2) bills that make legal and permanent some of President Obama’s unconstitutional unilateral actions, like exempting businesses between 50-99 employees from ObamaCare’s employer mandate.

5. Be Transparent. ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber said, “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage… call it the stupidity of the American voter… but basically that was really, really critical in getting [ObamaCare] to pass.” Americans should not have to wait for reform to pass to find out what’s in it.

“Transparency is the enemy of bad legislation. The hearings, town hall meetings, working groups and public debates of this 5-Point Plan will help insure that the process of evaluating, repealing and replacing ObamaCare is done in a transparent manner, which in turn will help insure that the next health care policy approved by Congress is one the American people are happy to live with,” said Amy Ridenour, chairman of the National Center for Public Policy Research.

“Republicans in Congress need to educate the American people about the benefits of free-market health care reform,” says Dr. Hogberg. “We need to repeal ObamaCare and replace it, and 2017 represents our next best opportunity. But it will be a heavy lift getting there.”

Margaret Thatcher offered up another wise saying the GOP must never forget: “You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”

?”Some Republican elected officials may be tired of fighting ObamaCare, but health care reform is literally a life-or-death matter, and one Americans must continue to work on until we get it right,” added Ridenour.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors. Sign up for free issue alerts here.

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ObamaCare Customers Should Beware of Higher Prices

Some ObamaCare Premium Increases will be Over $1,000 Annually, New Study Says

Washington DC – Consumers who in 2015 kept the same plans they purchased for 2014 on the ObamaCare Exchanges could be in for a big shock, warns Dr. David Hogberg, senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research.

“Because of the way the subsidy mechanism works, some consumers could see an exorbitant increase in premiums,” Hogberg said. “For example, a 27-year-old single person in Denver, Colorado making $25,000 annually who bought the cheapest bronze plan would pay $535 more this year. A 57-year-old couple in Miami, Florida earning $50,000 annually who did the same would pay $1,548 more.

The worst area was Jackson, Mississippi, where a 27-year-old earning $25,000 who kept the cheapest bronze plan would pay $1,168 more and a 57-year-old couple earning $50,000 would pay $3,282 more.

In the study, “Three Ways Consumers Could Pay Exorbitantly Higher Premiums on the ObamaCare Exchanges in 2015,” Hogberg explains how this can happen.

To see how an area in your state fared, see Tables 5 and 6 near the end of the study.

“The subsidy is based, in part, on the second lowest-cost silver plan on the exchange and when the price of that plan drops, so will the subsidy,” Hogberg says. “Consumers in those exchanges are the most at risk, but even consumers on exchanges where the second-lowest cost silver plan increases, thereby increasing the subsidy, are not necessarily safe from substantial premium increases.”

First, consumers who qualified for a subsidy in 2014 will see their subsidy decline in 2015 if they are on an exchange in which the price of the second-lowest cost silver plan declines. If they also have a policy that has increased in price, then they will pay higher premiums. That is what happened in Jackson, Mississippi where, for a 27-year-old, the subsidy dropped by $83 per month and the cheapest bronze plan rose by $14 a per month. That resulted in a monthly premium increase of $97, or about $1,168 annually.

Second, consumers on an exchange in which the price of the second-lowest cost silver plan declined could pay higher premiums if they had a policy that decreased in price but did not decrease as much as the price of the second-lowest cost silver plan. That happened in New Hampshire. For a 57-year-old couple, the subsidy declined $163 per month while the bronze plan dropped $11 per month, resulting in a premium increase of $152 per month or $1,824 annually.

Finally, it is even possible for consumers to pay higher premiums on an exchange in which the subsidies increased. Consumers on those exchanges who own a policy that increases more than the subsidy will pay higher premiums. In Miami, Florida, a 57-year-old couple with the cheapest bronze plan in 2014 saw a monthly premium increase of $129 ($1,548 annually) because the subsidy increased $18 per month but the cheapest bronze plan rose $147 per month.

“Consumers facing such increases will either have to find room in their budgets or deal with the hassle of changing insurance plans,” says Hogberg. “And, as the study also shows, switching plans is no guarantee that a consumer won’t still pay more than he or she did last year.”

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non- partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors.

Contributions are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.

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UnitedHealth CEO: ObamaCare Exchanges Must be Sustainable on their Own

Company is Open to a “Variety of Forms of Assisting to See if We Can Provide Relief or Help” to Veterans and the VA

Value of Free Markets in Health Care Stressed

Las Vegas/Washington DC – Following conversations both public and private with National Center for Public Policy Research President David Ridenour at his company’s annual shareholder meeting this week, UnitedHealth CEO Stephen Hemsley expressed the strongest appreciation of the benefits of a free-market system in health care of all the health insurance CEOs quizzed so far this year by the National Center.

Mr. Hemsley was asked, first, if UnitedHealth would pledge to reject any taxpayer bailouts offered to health insurance companies under ObamaCare.

While declining to issue a blanket pledge against bailout participation, Mr. Hemsley noted that UnitedHealth has been “careful with respect to how we participate in” the ObamaCare exchanges; clarifying further that UnitedHealth “[has] not participated extensively in exchanges.” He emphasized repeatedly that the ObamaCare exchanges must be able to operate without bailouts, using phrases such as “sustainable, and sustainable on their own” and “self-supportive and sustainable.” Mr. Hemsley also noted that UnitedHealth has paid over $2 billion into ObamaCare in specific ObamaCare taxes.

Ridenour also asked Mr. Hemsley, if, in light of the continuing waiting list scandal at the Veterans Administration, if UnitedHealth was “calling for, lobbying for, or in some way working to encourage the federal government to change the way it provides health care to veterans, to give veterans access to vastly superior private health insurance plans?”

Mr. Hemsley replied, in brief, that the company is “open to a variety of forms of assisting to see if we can provide relief or help” to veterans and the VA, but the Company has not developed a “policy view” of recommendations for specific VA reforms. He nonetheless seemed to have in mind a number of ideas for improving health care services to veterans, saying, “we think a whole spectrum of approaches might apply.”

A complete transcript of the public exchange between Ridenour and Mr. Hemsley is here; an audio recording of the exchange is here.

David Hogberg, Ph.D., health care policy analyst for the National Center, commented further:

A true free-market health care system is one in which decisions about care are left to patients and health-care providers and patients controls the resources to pay for care. This is the type of health care system that would be truly beneficial for patients by driving down the costs of health care while also improving quality.

In the U.S. health care system, we rely far too much on third-party payers to pay our health care bills, be they private insurers or government programs such as Medicare or Medicaid. Naturally, in such a system the third party will have a say in how the money is spent, but its interest may not coincide with that of the patient. A market-based system will minimize the interference of third-party payers.

Such a health care system would involve both tax credits and large Health Savings Accounts that individuals will control and use to pay for both health insurance and health care. It will also involve insurance designs such as reference pricing for large health care expenditures. Reference pricing gives patients a set amount for a certain procedure. If the patients gets the procedure done at a price less than or equal to the reference price, he pays nothing. If he gets it done for more than the reference price, he pays the difference.

These and many other innovations will be necessary to turn our health care system into one that is directly responsive to patients. To get there, we need policy changes that put patients back in charge of health care resources and permit providers to innovate, to find new, more effective ways to bring care to patients.

The National Center in recent weeks has quizzed the CEOs of Wellpoint, Humana, and Aetna about participation in ObamaCare bailouts. No CEO agreed to refuse a taxpayer bailout. The National Center also has attended the shareholder meetings of all the major U.S. pharmaceutical companies this year.

More information about the National Center’s health care programs is here; about our participation in shareholder meetings, here.

The National Center has participated in 42 shareholder meetings so far in 2014.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, three percent from foundations, and three percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors.

Contributions are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.

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More Bad News for Rural America

Guest post by Jim Beers

With all of the winds currently buffeting rural America from government wolves and state governments becoming federal contractors for federal intrusions to federal land and water controls; a new wrinkle has been added. When federal politicians talk about “redistributing wealth”, who knew one of the “redistribution” vehicles for rural wealth would be federal health legislation? Not me.

Minnesota is a state that apparently seldom questions government growth of any sort, so it is not surprising that we formed one of the first state health care exchanges called MNsure as the federal Obamacare legislation rolls forward. A recent newspaper article explains the expected differences in cost for Minnesotans divided into 9 “regions”.

Under the MNsure rules and charges, the Twin Cities to St. Cloud corridor (our most urban and most populous region) will be charged a monthly premium of $634 for a family of four. All other (rural Minnesota) regions will be charged $668, $704, $742, $816, $854, and $1,200 respectively. These very significant differences are mysteriously credited to nonsense like “people might be sicker in some regions”, “doctors in some regions might opt for treatments that are more or less expensive” and “differences in the prices that different health care providers get paid for performing the same service”.

Dismissing all the associated smoke and mirrors; rural Minnesotans, and most likely all rural Americans as Obamacare becomes the only game in town, are embarking on a massive transfer of wealth to urban precincts in their state. This is yet another result of this Red/Blue – Rural/Urban voting shift in our country. Federal schemes from wolves to healthcare are at base thinly veiled political pandering for votes in concentrated urban precincts. Giving them more and more government services and the granting of their imaginary environmental dreams in rural precincts (despite the harms to farmers, ranchers, hunters, dog owners, parents, and rural economies) are what keep federal politicians and their parties in power.

Recognizing what is happening and why it is happening is the first step. The second step is seeing what must be done. The third step is doing it despite the names they call you and the accusations they hurl at you. Freedom is never cheap and rights must always be protected. Rural Americans have been in the crosshairs long enough. Transferring wealth for health is right up there with destroying a village to save it.

Jim Beers
20 Sep. 2013

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